The past 12 months may have been an exciting time for investors. The major market indices generally inched higher, though well off the heady returns of 2009.

However, not every stock has gone along for the ride or bucked the trend by tanking. Several prolific stocks actually closed out the year pretty much where they started.

Let's take a look at seven stocks that generated returns between a decline of 5% and a gain of 5% last year. Some of the names may surprise you:

Company

12/31/09

12/31/10

Gain

AMR (NYSE: AMR) $7.73 $7.79 0.8%
KB Home (NYSE: KBH) $13.42 $13.49 0.5%
NVR (NYSE: NVR) $710.71 $691.02 (2.8%)
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) $619.98 $593.97 (4.2%)
Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) $16.78 $16.63 (0.9%)
The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT) $10.07 $9.88 (1.9%)
Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) $13.63 $14.05 3.1%

*Prices adjusted for dividend distributions.

AMR is the parent company of American Airlines. The struggling carrier's return to profitability during the third quarter -- and analysts' expectations of black ink for 2011 overall -- hasn't been enough to land meaningful gains for shareholders in 2010. Even an uptick in sector consolidation couldn't help the company avoid flattish results.

AMR didn't spend the whole year on autopilot, though. Its shares traded as high as $10.50 and as low as $5.86 over the past year.

KB Home and NVR have little in common beyond their homebuilding niche. KB Home continues to post losses, while NVR is in a league of its own, given its largely profitable run during the housing industry's downturn. Mr. Market doesn't exactly have discriminating tastes, ignoring both KB Home and the better-managed NVR.

Google and Yahoo! also jogged in place. With regard to each stock's returns during 2010, this may be one of the few playing fields where Yahoo! actually beat the world's leading search engine.

The Knot is the leading wedding-planning website, matching up nervous brides-to-be with local wedding specialists. Several websites in other specialty areas may have exploded in 2010, but The Knot's performance has remained much "I do" about nothing.

Applied Materials is a tech bellwether. If not for its 2% yield, its already ho-hum return would have been even closer to zero.

Some of these stocks are coming off monstrous runs in 2009, but the end result is that the tug of war between bulls and bears over the past year has been pretty much a draw. Given some of the volatile names in the mix, it would be a shock if they repeated this feat in 2011.

What stocks on this list do you think will climb higher in 2011? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Google and The Knot are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. The Fool owns shares of Google, which is also a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't mind sifting through the ignored for a good buying opportunity. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.